Life is all about changes. When people cannot take care of themselves anymore, either because of age or health issues, the only option for them is moving to an old’s people home. This represents a very significant personal change in one’s life. An individual has to leave behind their home - a place where they feel safe. They have been engaged in local community and have created their own social network. Animals are a big part of human life and an important piece of their social network as well. Many people have them as a pet who is in many households an equal family member. The majority of residential homes for the old still do not allow their residents to have their own pets, therefore, a person who moves there has to leave their pets behind. My Master thesis discusses how animals assisted interventions in the retirement homes and their effect on the quality of life of their residents. Each individual has to satisfy their needs, thus institutional care is sometimes a challenge for professionals, because they should offer a quality care for each resident. People’s quality of life depends on how each individual defines it. There are not only health and financial care in the third and fourth life span that are of a great importance, but people’s social life is a significant part as well. The loneliness of old people is a growing social problem, since it directly affects the psychophysical state of an individual. The study consists of interviews of four practitioners; a therapy dog guide and three home residents. The group interview was conducted with the two of them. The sample is random, I made contact with the interviewees during my practice. I used the technique of semi-standardized interviewing which was then transcribed and qualitatively processed by using coding. The results are very similar. All practitioners note the positive effects of animal-assisted activities on the old people. The majority of them are social effects, followed by psychological and physical effects which are covered in all descriptions of special events described by interviewees. Two institutions allow residents to have pets, while in others only visits
are permitted. Animal-assisted activities break the daily routine and bring something new to their institution. Through activities, integration into homes is easier and the strength of the old people is mobilized, social interaction is increased and loneliness is reduced. The animal has a calming effect on people, which makes it easier to open and trust. Activities provide a safe space where everyone has the time to interpret their thoughts. Exercises based on the enhancing of physical strength of the old people enable them to perform their daily tasks more independently, thus improving their well-being and self-image. Greater visibility of animal-assisted work is needed, both in residential homes and social work faculties. The interviewed experts expressed their desire for additional seminars or training for such type of work. Further research should be carried out by using observation method and case studies.